The Widdershins

Morning Widdershins: The Media and Women

Posted on: December 19, 2013

Lady Gaga

My company is one of the many that has very few women in leadership positions. Although I have encountered remarkably little sexism in my two and a half years there, it is, institutionally, not a very friendly place for those of us with scary lady parts.

What makes my company different from many others, is that it has invested a remarkable amount of time and money to begin to remedy this situation. One of the programs it has created is called the “Accelerator Program for Women.” I am one of 40 women throughout the company who has been selected to participate. We have had a couple of town halls, and they have been both fascinating and enlightening. Amazingly, the issues we have as women and professionals do translate across the country and the world…such as, why are we still, after so many advances in our personal and work lives, being portrayed as impossibly thin, impossibly young objects in the media?

One of the women in the UK posted this video on our program community site this week. It is so good, it speaks for itself. Someday I will have the calm and self-possession to do presentations like this, like the brave and composed Jean Kilbourne.

This is an open thread.

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9 Responses to "Morning Widdershins: The Media and Women"

I’ve seen that post, MB. I wish more people were talking more of the time about how even models don’t look like models!

I still keep coming back to the the decrease in sizing to Size 0 as the ultimate goal. What possible conclusion can we draw from the media/fashion conglomerate proselytizing that women should be Size Zero?

The only conclusion I can draw is that we are supposed to disappear.

Really? Size Zero? What do the poor things live on?

Celery. Pharmaceuticals.

chat@3: Awww. They need some biscuits and gravy!

Or the line from The Devil Wears Prada, “I’m one good stomach flu from my goal weight.”

MB, to be selected into one of these programs is extremely prestigious because of the huge competition for inclusion. It is indeed a recognition of your talent. Selecting internal candidates is more impactful since it is based upon a record of work and accomplishment. Congratulations!

@2,3 “Pharmaceticals” is putting it politely. That implies prescribed diet pills. They probably all have them, but many, if not most, are also using crack, cocaine, heroin, speed, meth, and cigarettes. Remember a few years back when they were calling it “heroin chic”? So women are supposed to disappear to a size zero, and if getting there doesn’t kill us, drugs will.

@5 Prolix, I commented on MB’s FB page today how unfortunate it is that Anna Wintour (the reputed “devil” herself) is a successful, powerful woman, who, rather than use her power to any good end, has expressed utter contempt for any woman who is larger than a size 2. Interviewed by Larry King, he asked about the anorexia problem in fashion and Wintour replied, haughtily, “Larry, show me the woman who wants to be fat.” This is our most influential fashion arbiter….lifted, botoxed, dieted to size 2 skinny jeans……I do not find this admirable. I find her level of dedication and accomplishment admirable, and I have no objection to her being as tough as any male CEO, but Vogue existed when a size 8 was the model’s standard, and Wintour has enough power now that she could be a force for change is she so chose.

Oh, and if you want to SEE proof that size doesn’t matter, consider that Meryl Streep, a robust size ten or twelve, with real woman’s hips and thighs, played Wintour so convincingly that she was nominated for an Oscar. Case closed.

I’m not talking about promoting obesity here. I’m talking about recognizing what’s normal, that normal women are about the size of women in the 1930’s, ’40’s, and ’50’s, and this size zero stuff only became the demanded norm after we decided to become visible in the world outside the home or the traditional “women’s professions”. Not a coincidence.

Great comments, all. Prolix, thank you. I have to say I feel very honored to have been selected. 😊

Mary Luke, what an excellent observation about size zero. I think it’s telling. And, Wintour should be ashamed of herself. There’s a woman who has bought into the patriarchal concept of “beauty” and spread its poison everywhere.

@6 & 7 — I included the line from Devil as an example of the outrageousness in the industry and I completely agree with all your comments about Wintour. I find her interesting. Let me explain.

I don’t find her interesting as “I’d like to have a meal with her consisting of celery and mineral water followed by a laxative chaser.” I find her interesting because she represents a dichotomy of influences. She knows better than the stuff she utters about size. She is almost a caricature of herself. That to me, makes her interesting. Of course, I find anything or anyone I don’t understand interesting.

What I can’t figure out is why she would portray herself as someone that out of touch with reality? She seems to be highly effective as a business person connoting being present and in touch. Why then the spectacle of cluelessness on this one issue?

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